Discovering your child is self-harming can be shocking and stressful. You may understandably feel confused, angry, scared or rejected. We’ve collected some of the most useful resources for you here and some good advice from young people who have been through it.
The first step is talking about it and understanding the emotions that lead people to harm themselves. Young people who self-harm often say they use it as a coping strategy to help with emotional distress. It can briefly help to make them feel they are in control or ease painful feelings, but they may feel worse again afterwards. Understanding why your son or daughter self-harms and getting their trust is important. A lot of the ways of coping are to do with learning better ways to manage anxiety or other distressing feelings. There are some helpful techniques that people can use instead of self-harming to release their distress – many of these are incorporated into the Apps listed at the bottom of this page.
- What to do about self-harm? Good summary of why young people self-harm including several short videos from parents, young people and professionals. There is a parent’s page with advice and tips.
- Free online course to help support your child with self-harm– this is a pilot course with one of five modules available so far. Modules are all free at this stage but once the full course has been released there will be a charge for users outside the UK.
- Coping with self-harm: a guide for parents A downloadable booklet produced together with parents, young people and professionals. The whole website (Charlie Waller Memorial Trust) is worth a look and we have included their videos below.
- Guide for parents on self-harm This site has several videos from parents whose children have self-harmed with advice on coping for other parents.
- Information by the Royal College of Psychiatrists for parents and families on self-harm.There are translated versions of this in many different languages.
- Coping strategies for young people as well as family and friends
Downloadable information on self-harm, this charity also produces a DVD for parents and families.
- Harmless- a charity offering support for young people, families and professionals
- How to understand and help my child who is self-injuring; free webinar from this USA charity Self-injury.com also offers other free resources and paid-for counselling.Books from a personal perspective
- Pooky Knightsmith “Can I Tell You About Self-Harm? A Guide for Friends, Family and Professionals”
A brief easily readable book written from the perspective of someone who has self-harmed and describes what self-harm is, why teens do it, and how to get help if your child feels the need to self-harm. It describes what has been and hasn’t been helpful. It also contains other resources for you and your son or daughter.
- Jane Smith “The Parents Guide to Self-Harm: what parents need to know”
This is a really clear book on all aspects of self-harm written by a former teacher and parent who has helped her own children through self-harm. It contains useful advice and guidance in a reassuring manner. It is written specifically for parents and carers.
Charlie Waller Memorial Trust video made with parents and young people (scroll down for the film for young people)
A personal view from someone who has self-harmed
Self-harm help for young people
Self-harm can be a way of coping with upsetting emotions or when you feel overwhelmed. Many people however find it only helps for a short time. Learning to cope in other ways when you feel panicky, upset or angry is a good first step which can help you feel more in control. There is lots of help and support available. Click here to find out what self-harm means and what you can do about it.
- No Harm Done- Things Can Change Read this! Written by young people for young people.
- A letter to myself when I was self-harming
- The Mix – expert advice and blogs on self-harm: articles on recovering from self-harm, breaking the self-harm stigma, self-harm as a way of coping with childhood abuse and expert advice. Highly recommended.
- Distractions for self-harm – lots of different ideas recommended by young people who have experienced self-harm
- CASS Women’s Self Injury Helpline (UK) Aims to offer emotional support to girls and women of any age affected by self-harm, as well as their friends, families and carers. They also run a service called TESS – Text and E-mail Support Service, for girls and women up to 24 years old. You can text or e-mail (using the form on their website). You can also check out other Helplines in our Helplines section.
- Mind website – games and puzzles for distraction
- Calm Harm Ideas that you can do when you have the urge to self harm with appealing graphics. You can add your own ideas too. Click on the name to take a look.
‘ You can complete a log/journal of experiences that might trigger the urge to self-harm or you can just choose activities (under ‘ride the wave’) that can be useful depending on how you are feeling. These include self-soothing, distraction, writing, doing something active etc. There are more tips in the section called ‘get help’ (Therapist)
- Distract Good for signposting to other services, and has some self-harm educational information as well as links to Art, Books and Films.